• Greg Alcala

Offseason Preview: Toronto Raptors


Toronto Raptors (56-26)

*Photo via Bleachereport

Recap

The Toronto Raptors aren’t a secret anymore. For the past three years, the Raptors, led by self-made All-Stars in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, have captured division titles with little to no competition other than the Boston Celtics. For an organization that has suffered as much as the Raptors, their revival in recent history has achieved much greater heights than the teams led by Vince Carter or even Tracy McGrady for that matter. On the strengths of stability in head coach Dwane Casey, a great supporting cast spearheaded by Patrick Patterson among others, and their stars, the Raptors reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. And in doing so, pushed the eventual Eastern Conference champion, Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 6. Fortunately for the Raptors, management won’t rest until the ultimate goal is achieved. Thestar.com reports that shortly after the Raptors were eliminated, Masai Ujiri and Casey were in the team’s headquarters scheming on what they can do to get the team over the hump. “He talked about the things we need to get better at,” Ujiri told thestar.com. “This is right away, when the run was over. And we started counting these things and, yeah, they’re a lot, they’re things that we need to work on, and I love that.”

Free Agents

Restricted - None

Options – DeMar Derozan, Bismack Biyombo

Unrestricted – Jason Thompson, Luis Scola, James Johnson

Who Leaves, Who Stays

*Photo via BleacherReport

Without Bismack Biyombo, there is no Game 6 against Cleveland . The Democratic Republic of the Congo native averaged 6.2 ppg, a block and a significant 9.4 rebounds that helped alter the series in key moments. In Game 3, Biyombo used all 6’9 and 245 pounds of himself to pull down a beastly 26 rebounds with resistance from Tristan Thompson, a great rebounder in his own right. According to ESPN.com, back in February, Derozan stated that it will be tough for interested teams to sway him out of Toronto. “My whole mindset has always been this is home for me,” Derozan told ESPNradio. "This has always been home to me. I took pride in putting on this Toronto Raptors jersey since I've been drafted here. And my whole goal was to get this team to the point where it is now. And I feel I've been a major key to that." Maybe that can change, especially if you have a chance to play for your home-town team, and how could you say no to the rich history that defines the purple and gold themed Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant just retired so there is a void at the shooting guard spot and how could would it be for the native son to return home and try to create his own legacy. According to lakernation.com, the team will have $60 million or more to spend on free agents and there’s no doubt that DeRozan will be looking for the max deal that he warrants. DeRozan could jumpstart the healing of LA having to cope with life after Kobe, but again, just a thought. According to yibada.com, the Atlanta Hawks have also emerged as a possible landing spot for DeRozan as well. Other than DeRozan, Biyombo, Lowry, Carroll, Joseph, Patterson and Ross, among others, will return so the core in addition to key pieces will be intact for a successful 2016-17 campaign.

Needs

*Photo via Deadspin

DEROZAN. This should be the Raptors top priority this summer in-terms of re-signing players. He hasn’t reached his full potential and he’s only 26. Signing DeRozan means letting Biyombo go but I think that is a gamble worth taking especially when you can find big’s in free agency or the draft. In that case, the Raptors have to prep for Biyombo’s possible exit so recruiting a starting caliber or second tier PF should be the next move. Due to the brilliancy of Ujiri, the Raptors own the 9th pick in this year’s NBA Draft and will have a wealth of talented big’s to choose from at that spot. The small forward spot could also use some depth. This past regular season, the dinosaurs shot 37 percent from three in the regular season and 29 percent during postseason. It isn’t bad but it’s not Steph Curry either. A small forward who can shoot from the outside would be ideal to give the Raptors another stable 3-pt threat which every great team needs.

Possible moves

*Photo via Palmbeach Post

Marreese Speights – Can score in the post and from 15-feet out. Energizer

Michael Beasley – Everyone needs points off the bench

Jordan Hill – Finally has a 15-footer

Charlie Villanueva – Solid stretch four off the bench

#GregoryAlcala #NBAOffseason2016 #NBA #Raptors #NBAPreviews2016

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